Startups to watch

12 hot application container startups

From management to storage and networking to security – these startups have containers covered

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container management platform gives IT operations professionals an out-of-the-box way to spin up and manage groups of containers.

The first thing the software does is it assess the infrastructure that is available to it. Then, when operations folks want to launch applications or code in a container, Portworx will do the heavy lifting: It will provision the containers, get the necessary storage, and manage the IP addresses and other networking features of the containers.

The product is a ways away from being generally available. Later this summer Portworx will release a hosted “playground” version of the software, but there is no timeframe for when a 1.0 release will be generally available. Its management team previously started storage optimization company Ocarina Networks, which Dell bought in 2010.

Rancher Labs

Headquarters: Cupertino
Founded: 2014
Funding: $10M in funding from Mayfield and Nexus Venture Partners
Why it’s worth watching: The founders of Rancher - Sheng Liang and Shannon Williams - were part of the team that helped create Cloud.com – which was later sold to Citrix and is now the CloudStack product and open source cloud management product. Rancher is attempting to do for containers what CloudStack does for clouds – be a platform for managing them.

At this point Rancher is best known for RancherOS, a lightweight operating system optimized for running containers. The company’s big plans are for its Rancher infrastructure management platform, which is in beta. It’s meant to run on any virtualized or physical machine and works with applications to understand what needs they have for storage, networking and compute resources. It then allocates the appropriate infrastructure for those apps and spins up the containers to run them. Rancher currently works with Docker containers, but the company is open to supporting other container runtimes, such as CoreOS’s.

Shippable

Headquarters: Seattle
Founded: 2013
Funding: $10.1 M from Madrona Venture Group, Vulcan Capital, Divergent Ventures and Founders Co-Op
Why it’s worth watching: The team at Shippable wants to make it easier for developers to use containers for building applications. Containers are the perfect medium for writing, testing and launching code, they say.

Founded by a team that used to work at Microsoft and Cloud Foundry, Shippable is a hosted service that allows developers to write code and have it be immediately tested to ensure it works and is bug-free.

In the past, test environments have been made up largely of virtual machines. At Microsoft, Shippable’s co-founder Avi Cavale managed a multi-million dollar lab testing environment based entirely on VMs. Using Shippable, Cavale says the footprint of the testing environment can be dramatically reduced. Shippable is billed as a portion of the savings that customers realize from using containers instead of VMs.

Sysdig 

Headquarters: San Francisco
Founded: 2013
Funding: Undisclosed
Why it’s worth watching: Monitoring containers may not sound like the most exciting topic, but it’s critically important. It’s one thing to have containers up and running, but how many do you have? What apps are running inside of them? What other apps are those containers interacting with? Those are the types of questions that Sysdig helps answer.

The Linux monitoring platform is an open source project that’s freely available as a download from GitHub, as well as a product from the company named Sysdig Cloud. It provides information such as system health checks, top network connections for a container, most input/output intensive files in a container, a history of commands executed on a container, descriptions of which containers are running in a machine and what apps are running in a container. Plus it provides a sortable history of all the log data it keeps. It’s accessible through a command line interface or a basic dashboard, with plans for a more polished paid version. Founder and CEO Loris Degioanni used to work at Riverbed Technologies.

Sysdig represents one of many companies with container monitoring and tracking products; Andreessen Horowitz-backed SignalFX is another.

Tutum

Headquarters: Brooklyn, with another office in Madrid
Founded: 2013
Funding: $2.65 million seed round, led by RTP Ventures with participation from Azure Capital Partners and some angel investors.
Why it’s worth watching: Tutum started out as a company that wanted to provide a completely hosted container environment. But its founders - a former HP technician and a Capgemini consultant - realized that hosting providers like Amazon Web Services, may offer that. So Tutum’s real differentiator was not hosting containers, but the management software it built, so the company is now focused on that.

Tutum’s technology has been developed with the application developer in mind. It’s software is designed to allow developers to write code, port it into Tutum and let the software take care of the rest. That means Tutum will handle the network connections needed using technology called Weave. Tutum will also manage the storage those containers need and it will provide container tracking. The Tutum team hopes its product will come out of beta later this year.

Twistlock

Founded: 2015
Headquarters: San Francisco
Funding: $3.1M by YL ventures and angels
Why it’s worth watching: This company, founded by a team led by Ben Bernstein and Dima Stopel from Microsoft, positions its software as an “end-to-end” security product for protecting and monitoring containers. Twistlock provides a customizable dashboard to monitor containers in any environment, and allows what it calls “gates” to be put up to help control the make-up of containers.

Twistlock also allows for security profiles to be set up so that when containers are created they follow specific guidelines. With Twistlock, users can dictate policies that restrict which apps can interact with containers, for example, and alerts can be triggered if containers are made without these security measures in place. The company name comes from the world of trade shipping containers, where twistlocks are used to secure containers to one another.

Weaveworks

Founded: 2014
Headquarters: London
Funding: $5 million from Accel Partners
Why it’s worth watching: Weaveworks, the company commercializing the Weave open source project, creates a virtual network that connects containers. Containers at their most basic level do not inherently have networked connections to one another.

Having network capabilities makes it easier to monitor and control Docker containers. Weave prescribes each container an IP address, allowing them to be mapped with its Scope tool.

CoreOS, for example, has its own networking overlay named Rudder, which works with its rkt container runtime environment. Other platforms like Rancher and Portworx help manage network connections for containers, in addition to provisioning. Weave has focused much of its work on solving networking problems with containers, and has thus been an integral part of other container management platforms, like Tutum. Weave has recently expanded its functionality to include monitoring, visualization and management of containers. CEO Alexis Richardson came from Pivotal, while CTO Matthias Radestock co-founded messaging service RabbitMQ. The company was originally called Zettio.

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